Gibson banjo ukulele - Loud and bright, three of these finger-pick the lead on all the tunes in the Music Box Rag project.
Slingerland banjo ukulele - used for rhythm. Its old original skin head gives it a wonderfully rickety tone.
Gretsch banjo ukulele - A clear-sounding banjo uke used for fingerpicking the lead on Ragtime Annie & Epley Breakdown.
Vega banjo mandolin - two of these play the lead on most numbers in the Ta-ra-ra-Boom-de-ay project.
Gibson banjo mandolin- One of each pair of strings is tuned down an octave, which gives this banjo a distinctive, never-exactly-in-tune croaking sound. Two of these second the lead on most numbers in the Ta-ra-ra-Boom-de-ay project.
Lyon & Healy five-string banjo - Nylon-strung. Fingerpicked on Buffalo Gals, strummed on Epley Breakdown.
Gibson banjo guitar - Big brother of the Gibson banjo mandolin. It fills out the ensemble sound.
Heftone Lojo(tm) bass banjo - The invention of my father Lawrence A. Hefferan.
These recordings were made in my living room using a single Shure SM-57 or Electovoice microphone plugged into my laptop computer. The instruments were played one-at-a-time, layering 4-12 tracks which were later mixed down to stereo. For software I used gnusound, which is free (GNU GPL) software writen by Pascal Haakmat, running on the linux 2.4.18 kernel. No electrons were harmed, no copyright laws were broken, and no licenses were violated.
Peaceful Henry: composed by E. H. Kelly in 1901. My version is based on a 1902 recording of Vess Ossman, who was was an oft-recorded 5-string banjo virtuoso.
Guatemala - Panama March: From a 1916 Hurtado Bros. Royal Marimba Band recording, which is the most beautiful record I think I've ever heard.
Persian Lamb Rag - by Percy Wenrich, who wrote many hit songs in his day. From a 1908 recording by Vess Ossman.
Music Box Rag - from a wonderful 1914 recording of the Victor Military Band.
Whistling Rufus - Vess Ossman and other banjoists recorded this number many times. This version was inspired by an Ossman recording of 1899.
St. Louis Tickle - Credited to Barney & Seymore. This lovely piece was a hit in 1904. Ossman recorded several good versions.
Dill Pickles - from a 1908 recording of the Zon-o-phone Orchestra. I've heard several other good versions from the period, all using pretty much the same arrangement, all snappy.
Maple Leaf Rag - Scott Joplin's celebrated piece was widely recorded. This version is inspired by recordings of the United States Marine Band (1907) and by Vess Ossman (1909).
Down Home Rag - by Wilber Sweatman. Jame Reese Europe's Society Orchestra, the house band for Vern and Irene Castle's Castle House in New York City, recorded a ferociously good version on a "long-playing" 12-inch 78rpm Victor record in 1914. It's a wild number for dancing.
Eli Green's Cakewalk - by Sadie Kominsky. A popular hit in 1897. This version is from a Cullens and Collins recording of 1898.
Semper Fidelis - A famous Sousa march. I remember when I was a child my mother would put on a record of Sousa marches when we had housework to do. It made the work fun. This one's for mom.
Policy King - From a 1919 recording of banjo ace Fred Van Eps, who recorded it with a full concert band.